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3 estate planning documents to review for the New Year

The holiday season is in full swing, and the new year is just around the corner. With 2018 about to start, it is the perfect time to review your estate plan. You should check up on your estate plan every year and after major life events. Some of your documents may be outdated and do not reflect your current wishes or values. 

As you begin to think about your New Year's resolutions, make sure to include your estate plan in them. Here are three estate planning documents you should review as 2017 comes to a close.  

1. Advance directive

An advance directive, also known as a durable power of attorney, is a document that authorizes someone to make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated. If you have not appointed someone as your health care agent, you should consider doing so. It should be someone you trust, such as a close friend, family member or adviser. If you already have this document, take another look at it and make sure you chose the right person.  

2. Beneficiary forms

According to Forbes, retirement accounts are important to take a look at as you update your estate plan. If you have an IRA or 401(k), you determine who gets the funds via beneficiary designations, not your will or trust. Make sure you designate primary and secondary beneficiaries. Double-check who you named to ensure your retirement funds will go to the right people. 

3. Trusts

Think about whether you need a trust. A trust is not only for someone who is super rich. Trusts can help you protect your assets, avoid probate and put strings on money for spendthrift heirs. A living trust is also great for incapacity protection. 

Because reviewing these documents regularly is so essential, as you think about your life during the holiday season, set aside some time for an estate planning check-up. 

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